Michelin Guide: how a tire brand revolutionized the food industry

Have you ever wondered where the name of the famous Michelin Guide (pronounced like this) comes from? If it sounds familiar and, if what springs to mind is the big white mascot made of Michelin tires, you’re right. In 1900, the French automotive industry had only about 3,000 vehicles on the road, so brothers André and Edouard Michelin, founders of the tire brand, decided to provide motorists with a guide to make their journeys more enjoyable and with the aim of boosting interest in car travel.

Guía Michelin 1990
Photo: guide.michelin.com

A work that appears with the century and will last as long as the century

It seems the Michelins were visionaries, as André wrote in the introduction of the first publication of the guide, “This work appears with the century and will last as long as the century.” And he was right; what began as a simple quasi-travel pamphlet is today one of the most prestigious gastronomic guides in the world. In the beginning, the guide included a great deal of practical information such as maps, instructions for changing a tire, accommodations, and suggestions for places to eat along the way. It was free and very useful, but to André’s surprise, upon entering a tire shop one day, he discovered that stacks of them were being used to balance the legs of a bench.

hermanos André y Edouard Michelin
Photo: guide.michelin.com

The birth of the Michelin stars

From that moment, the brothers decided to sell the guide for 7 francs in order to give it a perceived value. Recognizing that the restaurant section had been a success, they hired a group of mystery diners, known today as inspectors, to visit and anonymously evaluate the restaurants. It was in 1926 that the now famous stars came into being. Restaurants that are considered excellent within their category are awarded one star, while two stars signifies top quality cuisine. Restaurants are awarded three stars if they are deemed worthy of making a trip for the sole purpose of tasting the delicacies on offer.

guías michelin distintos años
Photo: Jean-Pierre Clatot / Getty Images

There are even two street stalls in the guide

Since the guide is dictated by the principle of eating well, it’s possible to find everything from the most expensive and luxurious restaurants (which, admittedly, are the predominant ones) to two street stalls in the guide:

Jay Fai in Bangkok

This stall may be 10 times more expensive than any other in the city, but they have been serving top quality Thai food in plentiful portions for over 30 years.

Jay Fai en Bangkok
Photo: Indulgent Eats

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle in Singapur

It’s always a good sign when a street food stand is popular with the locals too, and here you’re sure to taste some of the best noodles of your life.

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle en Singapur
Photo: Angliss Singapore

Currently, there are 141 restaurants in the world with three Michelin stars

Here is a handful of them:

Benu (San Francisco, USA / Asian)

Benu (San Francisco, EUA / asiática)
Photo: guide.michelin.com

L’Enclume (Cartmel, UK / creative)

L’Enclume (Cartmel, Reino Unido / creativa)
Photo: guide.michelin.com

Atrio (Cáceres, Spain / creative)

Atrio (Cáceres, España / creativa)
Photo: relaischateaux.com

Boury (Roeselare, Belgium / French creative)

Boury (Roeselare, Bélgica / francesa creativa)
Photo: guide.michelin.com

Le Cinq (Paris, France / modern cuisine)

Le Cinq (París, Francia / cocina moderna)
Photo: traveler.es

Maaemo (Oslo, Norway / modern cuisine)

Maaemo (Oslo, Noruega / cocina moderna)
Photo: visitnorway.es

schanz.restaurant. (Piesport, Germany / modern French)

schanz.restaurant. (Piesport, Alemania / francesa moderna)
Photo: guide.michelin.com

Frantzén (Stockholm, Sweden / modern cuisine)

Frantzén (Estocolmo, Suecia / cocina moderna)
Frantzén (Stockholm, Sweden / modern cuisine)

Villa Crespi (Orta San Giulio, Italy / creative)

Villa Crespi (Orta San Giulio, Italia / creativa)
Photo: relaischateaux.com

Gaon (Seoul, South Korea / Korean)

Gaon (Seul, Corea del sur / coreana)
Photo: relaischateaux.com

*Article prepared with information from guide.michelin.com

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